During the 2018–19 season, then-sophomore diver Justin Moczynski was the best diver on the men’s swimming and diving team. This season, the junior has some real competition for the first time in freshman teammate Ethan Godfrey.
Last year, Moczynski was more than 200 points better than the second-best diver on the team on both the 1- and 3-meter boards. While Moczynski is still the team leader on both boards, Godfrey has been challenging him for the spot all season. The pair are separated by only 18 points on the 3-meter and 52 points on the 1-meter.
Both divers also made the cut for the NCAA regional championship meet, which will be held Feb. 28 and 29 at the Kelsey Partridge Bird Natatorium.
Godfrey said his relationship with Moczynski has helped push him to greater levels of success despite this year being his first on the team.
“Having Justin there, some really good talent, is always pushing me to try new dives and just keep going,” Godfrey said. “In high school, me and this kid that was a year above me would always go back and forth at meets, and it was pretty much the same thing I have with Justin — just pushing each other, trying new stuff. It’s a healthy relationship, but we’re always trying to beat each other.”
Moczynski and Godfrey have been trading first–place finishes throughout the season. Of the nine meets this season that both athletes have competed in, Moczynski has placed first five times on the 3-meter board, while Godfrey has taken top honors three times and placed higher than Moczynski with his third–place finish at the Ithaca Bomber Invitational. On the 1-meter board, Godfrey leads Moczynski with four wins and a better second-place finish at the Bomber Invitational, while Moczynski has four wins.
Moczynski said that because he and Godfrey are on similar skill levels, they have a deeper connection as teammates.
“It’s really nice to have someone I can relate to who’s doing similar dives and we can bond over that,” he said. “We bond over certain practices, and we just have fun. It’s really nice to have another person to relate [to].”
Diving coach Chris Griffin said he sees the pair use each other for motivation and encouragement, both during practices and competitions.
“It raises the bar for everyone when they can bounce off each other and see each other’s success,” he said. “If Justin has a bad meet and Ethan has a great meet, Justin is just happy he has a teammate who can pick up the slack. It’s a good dynamic. It’s not about beating the other one. It’s just about trying to get better.
Godfrey said that having Moczynski as a mentor has made his transition to collegiate diving easier and that he has taught him a lot about the intricacies of the sport.
“College scoring is a lot more subjective and can change a lot from meet to meet,” Godfrey said. “That can get you down. When there’s hard competition, the judges will be throwing out lower scores. He put it into perspective for me that it doesn’t depend on your score: It depends on how you’re performing in comparison to the competition.”
Freshman Theo Summerville has also had a strong year for the Bombers and is currently third behind Moczynski and Godfrey on both boards. Griffin said he has been trying to build up the men’s program for several years and is finally seeing his efforts come to fruition.
“It’s beginning to be where we’re trying to be,” Griffin said. “We’ll get a guy in here for a year and then they graduate out, but we finally are starting to build. It’s nice to have some good members on the guys’ side.”
The women’s diving program has been one of the strongest in the country for several years with 10 athletes earning All-American status in the last decade. Griffin said that his goal is to get the men’s team to the same level of success as the women’s.
Moczynski said he thinks the increasing size and skill of the team has helped him improve over the past three years.
“This year specifically, our team has expanded significantly with a good combination of people who have dove and people who are new to the sport,” he said. “This year, I feel like I’ve seen the most growth with myself in terms of technique with everyone else.”
Griffin said his goal for the pair is to have both qualify for the national championship. He said the pressure will be on at the regional meet because that single competition determines who moves on to nationals.
“We have some high goals,” Griffin said. “We have some things we’ve planned out. We stated them early in the season, and we’re going for them. We’re taking it one step at a time. There are hopes and goals, but right now it’s [to] do the best you can each day.”
Assistant sports editor Arla Davis, staff writer Connor Glunt and contributing writer Max Sobel contributed reporting to this article.